Millions of active job seekers in the U.S. struggle to find positions that offer thriving wages and a career path. At Workday Opportunity Onramps yesterday, our inaugural workforce development conference, participants gathered to share ideas and solutions to this serious problem.
“We believe deeply that there is talent everywhere, but opportunity is not,” said Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer at Workday, to an audience that included professionals in human resources, recruiting, diversity and inclusion, and corporate responsibility roles. “We all have a role to play to make sure we close that opportunity gap.”
Throughout the day, participants discussed the need to fix hiring practices so that companies can better identify people with the potential to be great employees, even if they don’t fit the typical mold.
That includes individuals who lack a four-year college degree or degree from a top-tier university, those who’ve gained needed skills in nontraditional ways, and those who have nontraditional career histories due to military service, incarceration, or breaks from the working world to take care of family members.
At the same time, millions of jobs go unfilled across the U.S., with many organizations saying they face skills gaps. Participants discussed how potentially good hires are often bypassed due to weaknesses in how organizations screen resumes, manager and organizational biases toward hiring people who haven’t taken traditional career paths, and lack of training, mentoring, and reskilling opportunities for front-line workers.
Conference participants also announced new initiatives. Yesterday morning, Walmart and Google announced a joint $5 million fund that will support three organizations testing solutions in reskilling the American workforce and matching skills to roles: the Drucker Institute, Opportunity@Work, and the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
“We’re very pleased to announce this morning a series of grants to grow our efforts to support opportunity onramps for people,” said Gayatri Agnew, senior director at Walmart, during a presentation with Byron Auguste, CEO and co-founder of Opportunity@Work (pictured above). “It’s not just about entry into work; it’s about life-long learning and skill developing. It’s about creating economic opportunity.”
In addition, Workday and Opportunity@Work are collaborating with LinkedIn, Okta, PwC, Salesforce.org, Symantec, and Walmart to launch the Opportunity Onramps community. As community members, these companies will help connect their employees to workforce development volunteer opportunities, such as providing mock interviews, resume reviews, job shadowing, mentoring, and more.
Individuals are encouraged to get involved by signing the pledge to volunteer 50 hours over the next three years to help job seekers with diverse backgrounds achieve their goals, and enlist five peers to do the same.
To support the effort to empower employees to help close the opportunity gap, Workday made available the Workforce Week online toolkit, which provides free workforce development training resources, including draft agendas, communications, and more. Many of the resources are based on Workday’s own learnings from its annual Workforce Week, started in 2015.
During Workday’s Workforce Week employees and managers work with youths and adults, providing training, mentoring, and mock interviews through partnerships with organizations such as JobTrain, Stride Center, Upwardly Global, and Year Up.
“We realized we needed to do more to accelerate opportunity onramps for people who did not follow a linear path through higher education and a corporate career ladder,” said Carrie Varoquiers, vice president, global impact at Workday, and president of the Workday Foundation.“Workday has truly benefited from hiring these talented individuals and then watching them excel.”
In the coming days, we’ll report on more from the conference, including best practices shared by workforce development leaders from a variety of companies on how to get your organization more engaged in developing onramps to opportunities. Stay tuned!